Iran Rebrands and Prepares for International Tourism

Source: WTM news
The diplomatic relations between the US and Iran have thawed and the recent lifting of sanctions sparked a scramble to open the country up to visitors, says the WTM Global Trends Report 2015, in association with Euromonitor International.
Released at World Travel Market London, the report predicts the Middle Eastern country has the potential to be a key tourism player, thanks to its unique culture and heritage.
The country looks set to exploit its ancient Persian history, 19 World Heritage Sites, and more unlikely tourism attractions such as 19 ski resorts, and opportunities for mountain climbing and bird-watching.
The WTM Global Trends Report 2015, in association with Euromonitor International, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary at WTM London 2015, reveals the Iranian government has already taken steps to boost tourism by enabling many nationalities, such as French, German and Russian, to obtain a visa upon arrival.
And the country is currently exhibiting at World Travel Market London 2015, hosting a delegation of six tour companies eager to do business with tour operators and travel agents from across the globe.
The United Arab Emirates-based Rotana Hotel Group has a brand aimed at Muslim travellers – Rayhaan Hotel and Resorts – and the company is preparing for four properties to open in Tehran and Mashhad by 2018.
“With the lifting of sanctions, we are sure that all developers and operators will be racing to secure their position in one of the world’s largest untapped markets,” said Omer Kaddouri, Rotana’s President and Chief Executive.
However, the report highlights hurdles to tourism developments, saying: “The years of international isolation have left the tourism infrastructure in need of major investment.
“Banking processes are a key area of reform as online or credit card payments are virtually impossible inside Iran.
“There is a lingering threat of violence and instability in the country, and safety and security will need to be a priority if international tourism is to grow in Iran.”
World Travel Market London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “Since the international deal to lift sanctions was sealed in the summer, there have been many overseas firms looking to do business in Iran – and tourism companies are leading the way.
“A major influx of overseas visitors is expected, and, as the country recovers from its international exile, Iranians will see economic benefits, which will translate into increased domestic travel.”
Euromonitor International, Head of Travel, Caroline Bremner said: “Tourists on religious, historical or nature trips accounted for an estimated 90% of the annual five million international arrivals to the country in 2014.
“There is certainly pent-up demand to visit Iran, and it is centrally located with good air links to Africa, Europe and Asia – so we expect those tourist numbers to boom.”